B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 42-97404

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-97404


  • RCL: SU-L

MACR: 4813


History of
B-17 42-97404

Delivered to Cheyenne 26 February 1944; Kearney 16 March 1944; Grenier 26 March 1944; Assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron, 384th Bomb Group [SU-L] Grafton Underwood on 27 March 1944; Missing in Action on a mission to Stettin, 13 May 1944 with Tom Rex Francis (Killed in Action); Co-pilot: Maurice S. Mahoney, Navigator: Herbert Polansky, Bombardier: Raymond Edward Bowkley, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Allen Francis Brannigan, Radio Operator: Otto William Barnum, Ball turret gunner: William John Joseph Fiory, Waist gunner: Joseph Anthony Palladino,Tail gunner: Joseph Petrillo, Wilbur Godfrey Zordel (9 Prisoner of War); enemy aircraft set wings on fire, crashed at Drosedow, a mile Northwest of Loitz, near Tutrow Airfield, Germany; Missing Air Crew Report 4813.

Last updated: 6. January 2018


B-17 42-97404 Details

While formation was under enemy aircraft attack, pulled out of formation to the left and was seen circling under control, with fires under inboard sections and both wings; five chutes emerged; crashed near Loitz, Germany.

“From out of the sun, the Me-109s cut through the flight path. In the top turret, I could follow their path around our formation and I spotted two fighters peel off and enter our air space. I called for Pallandino (left waist gunner) to spot his target. I opened fire and followed the 109 across my horizon. Petrillo (right waist gunner) opened fire, but the fighter escaped the barrage of lead. Two more entered the fray. The second 109 hit the plane ahead, (Chas. Baker aircraft) the cabin exploded and the ship did a complete loop, over and out of formation. Tom Francis, (pilot) pulled up, trying to miss the flaming debris. Another German cut in front of us and placed a shell in our left wing. Our Fortress shook and the wing burst into flame. Tom called out he had lost control and to abandon ship.”


B-17 42-97404 Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P 2LT Thomas Rex Francis KIA
CP 2LT Maurice S. Mahoney POW
BOMB 2LT Raymond Edward Bowkley POW
ENG/TT S/SGT Allen Francis Brannigan POW
RO S/SGT Otto William Barnum POW
BT SGT William John Joseph Fiory POW
WG SGT Joseph Petrillo POW
WG SGT Joseph Anthony Palladino POW
TG SGT Wilbur Godfrey Zorbel POW

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